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Old 02-26-2021, 02:44 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
 
2021 16' Caravel
Callao , Virginia
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 27
Battery Charge Percentage - Victron Control

How do I determine battery charge percentage with lithium batteries?

I have a 2021 Caravel 16RB which came with the solar package (90W panel, 2 AGM batteries) and a Victron solar controller. I believe the controller is a Victron BlueSolar Charge Controller MPPT 150/35, and the wall display is a Victron Energy SCC900500000 MPPT Control. The Control does not currently show battery charge on my AGM batteries as a percentage, only as voltage. I have been calculating charge percentage by monitoring battery voltage.

Now, I am having my AS dealer install the Airstream BB LIFEPO4 batteries, a lithium compatible converter, and an additional solar panel.

Does anyone know if the Control which came with my Caravel will provide battery state of charge information as a percentage? I know that, unlike with AGM batteries, the voltage does not tell you much with lithium batteries as voltage stays pretty high until the battery is very discharged.

Will the Victron Control I have, or the associated Bluetooth app, give me this percentage or do I need some additional battery monitor?

Thanks, as always, for the outstanding knowledge available on this forum.
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:05 PM   #2
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
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The solar charge controller cannot track state of charge (SOC) as it only feeds energy into the battery, in order to track SOC you need a battery monitor that uses a shunt device that installs between all electrical loads and the negative post of the battery. The Victron BMV-712 gets a lot of praise, there are other options but since you already have Victron I would just go with it.

The BMV shunt allows tracking all power in/out of the battery, it counts how many watt hours go in vs out in order to track % of full.

The level of complexity to install it depends on a few pieces, one being how many batteries you have, if you have an inverter, and where the batteries are located. The shunt isn't weatherproof itself, and it needs a cable that runs from it to where you install the monitor/display.

If you only have 1 negative cable leaving your batteries to the trailer, then you just buy a short jumper cable and insert the shunt between the battery and that cable. The location of your battery may change the options, primarily if you have more than 1 negative cable going from the battery to the AS (e.g. a 2nd one for the inverter).
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:35 PM   #3
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2019 27' Globetrotter
McHenry , Illinois
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SilverHouseDreams is spot-on; you need a shunt in the system to measure the amp usage. Think of it as the fuel gauge for electrons. It measures everything going out and into the batteries.

The good news is Victron has another option now called the Smart Shunt. This is less expensive since you already have the display.

I installed my shunt on the outside of the battery box to keep the cables short but most install it inside the coach when they relocate the BB batteries. You can use the Victron App to add all your devices and monitor the usage from the shunt.

Good luck!
Jeff
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:53 AM   #4
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2021 16' Caravel
Callao , Virginia
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Thanks, SilverHouseDreams and jeffmc306 for the excellent information; just what I needed to know.

jeffmc306, I'm thinking of getting the SmartShunt. Can you provide any additional information on how you installed yours? I like the idea of installing it outside the battery box if possible. I see what looks like a plastic box in your attached photo, but I don't see the SmartShunt - is this a box in which you put the SmartShunt? Any additional information or photos you can supply would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again to you both for your help. This forum and its contributors are really great!
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:45 PM   #5
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McHenry , Illinois
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Here you go!

kmrice, happy to help!

The Smart Shunt is installed the same way as the BVM-712’s shunt which I have. You already have the display so the Smart Shunt is all you need.

I posted my install on this thread. The details are spread across several responses so just read through; it’s a short one.

With the Smart Shunt, all the “smarts” are integrated into the circuit board while the BVM-712 relies on the display for management. I also added a BlueSea disconnect switch which fits under the battery box cover. It’s not required but is handy to have the option to totally isolate the batteries. I wish they had the Smart Shunt when I did mine; would have saved me time and money.

Send me a private message if you’d like me to email you directly.

-Jeff
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Old 02-28-2021, 08:30 AM   #6
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2021 16' Caravel
Callao , Virginia
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jeffmc306, thanks so much! I'm not at all experienced with this sort of thing, and will have to study your photos and read the other thread carefully. I'm sure I will have questions!

But thanks so much for your help. Will get back to you when I have done my homework!
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Old 02-28-2021, 05:27 PM   #7
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2013 25' International
Benzonia , Michigan
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The Victron BMV-712 rocks! You will be able to understand what is happening on both sides of your system: batteries, solar charging. Really helps to manage electric usage when boondocking.


Sounds like Airstream already ran the wire for the wall display so maybe you can swap out the monitor you already have on the wall with the 712 monitor using the same wire?
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:00 PM   #8
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2021 16' Caravel
Callao , Virginia
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Thanks, trailerKat. The BVM-712 sounds great, but my AS came with a factory installed Victron SmartSolar charge controller MPPT, with its wired display on a bulkhead in my AS, so I don't think the BVM-712 will be necessary. Once the SmartShunt is installed, I should be able to get all the information I need from the Victron App, which interfaces with both the SmartSolar charge controller and the SmartShunt. If I didn't have the SmartSolar controller, it looks like the BMV super.
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:45 AM   #9
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2021 16' Caravel
Callao , Virginia
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jeffmc306, thanks for the information on your install of a shunt. I've studied it all carefully and came to two conclusions: 1, that's a beautiful, job you did, really, its elegant; and 2, I don't think I could do it myself. I understand the wiring but don't think I have the skills to install the buss bar and the box.

I have my lithium upgrade scheduled at my Airstream dealer in 10 days. I've purchased a SmartShunt and a battery cable. My Airstream dealer's service rep said they can install the shunt, but I'm not sure how much experience they have with shunts. I'll see if they can install it and if so, how their install compares with yours. If not as good, I'll have to see if I can find someone who can do an install for me like yours.

Thanks again for the help.
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